The countdown has begun to the start of the 2014 Southern Scuffle, presented by Defense Soap and Flips Wrestling. There are less than 72 hours before the first match and there is a lot of work still going on to get ready for collegiate wrestling’s premier in-season event.
Part of those preparations includes wrapping up the #LetsScuffle previews of all 10 weight classes. Today, TheSouthernScuffle.com breaks down the 174 and 184 individual tournaments. Both weight classes feature last year’s NCAA Champion and both have at least five of the top-10 in the country in the field.
The 174-pound bracket is absolutely stacked. 2013 NCAA Champion Chris Perry of Oklahoma State is one of six top-10 174-pound competitors headed to Chattanooga for the Scuffle. There could easily be a rematch of last year’s NCAA Finals between Perry and Penn State junior Matt Brown. Perry squeaked out a 2-1 win in overtime at the NCAAs, but will have to take out a tough field to repeat as Scuffle Champion.
“Based on the way he has wrestled in the past and what he has done this year, Chris Perry has to be the favorite,” stated head coach Heath Eslinger. “I think that is obvious when you talk about a returning national champion. However, if he repeats as the Scuffle champ, he will have earned it because 174 is loaded.”
|Six of the eight 174-pound placers from last year's Scuffle return, including 2013 Champion Chris Perry from Oklahoma State.|
Two-time All-American and last year’s Scuffle runner-up Logan Storley is also considered a contender. The Minnesota junior pinned Brown in the second period to get to last year’s finals, before losing to Perry by the slimmest of margins at 7-6. Perry beat Storley earlier this year with a 6-3 decision in their dual on Dec. 8.
Perry (No. 2), Brown (No. 3) and Storley (No. 5) are all ranked in the top-5, with Ohio sophomore and returning All-American Cody Walters (No. 7), Pittsburgh junior Tyler Wilps (No. 8) and Virginia senior Steven Doty (No. 10) rounding out the others ranked in the top-10.
The rest of the top-20 in this bracket include Central Michigan’s Mike Ottinger (No. 11 – Jr.), Navy’s Matt Miller (No. 12 – So.), The Citadel’s Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (No. 13 – Sr.) and Iowa State’s Tanner Weatherman (No. 14 – So.).
Luvsandorj placed sixth at last year’s Scuffle and is one of four additional placers who are slated to return. Cornell senior Marshall Peppelman (8th) and Arizona State sophomore Blake Stauffer (6th) were also in the top-8 at the 2013 Scuffle.
“We compete against Turtog in the Southern Conference, so we know what he is capable of and it would not surprise me if he went on a run,” added Eslinger. “This bracket may appear to be top-heavy, but a relative unknown could make a name for himself this week.”
Ranked Wrestlers at 174 (Intermat 12/24)
2013 Scuffle Place
|2||Chris Perry**||Senior||Oklahoma State||1|
|3||Matt Brown*||Junior||Penn State||3|
|11||Mike Ottinger||Junior||Central Michigan|
|13||Turtogtokh Luvsandorj||Senior||The Citadel|
|14||Tanner Weatherman||Sophomore||Iowa State|
|Blake Stauffer||Sophomore||Arizona State||6|
*Denotes All-American Honors
184 is also stacked, but it is led by one of the most dominant collegiate wrestlers in the country. Penn State senior Ed Ruth is looking to join Cornell’s Kyle Dake (2009-13) and Minnesota’s Cole Konrad (2003-06) as the only four-time champions in the history of the Southern Scuffle. He won the Scuffle at 174 in 2010 & 2012 and again at 184 in 2013.
Ruth is also a two-time NCAA Champion and a three-time All-American who has not lost a collegiate match since his freshman year. He is 12-0 this season and has scored bonus points in each victory. He is coming off a 12-4 major decision over Iowa’s second-ranked Ethan Lofthouse on Dec. 21.
“Ed Ruth is as tough as there is in collegiate wrestling,” stated Eslinger. “He has been dominant for almost all of his career and he is continuing that this season. He may not get touched this week, but that is why we wrestle the matches. If someone steps up and pulls off the upset, you are going to want to make sure you were here to see it.”
Minnesota senior Kevin Steinhaus is Ruth’s most formidable opponent. The two-time All-American is currently No. 4 in the nation. He placed third in each of the last two Scuffles and is looking to improve on those showings in his final appearance.
Other top-10s at 184 include Pittsburgh junior Max Thomussiet (No. 6), Cornell freshman Gabe Dean (No. 7) and Iowa State senior Boaz Beard (No. 9). Missouri junior John Eblen is No. 12 in the nation and placed seventh at last year’s Scuffle. He is one of two other returning placers, including Arizona State junior Kevin Radford (6th).
Penn sophomore Lorenzo Thomas (No. 13), Kent State sophomore Sam Wheeler (No. 16) and Virginia senior Jon Fausey (No. 19) are the other ranked wrestlers in the 184 field.
Ranked Wrestlers at 184 (Intermat 12/24)
|Rank||Name||Year||School||2013 Scuffle Place at 184|
|1||Ed Ruth***||Senior||Penn State||1|
|9||Boaz Beard||Senior||Iowa State|
|16||Sam Wheeler||Sophomore||Kent State|
|Kevin Radford||Junior||Arizona State||6|
*Denotes All-American Honors
Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com for the 2014 Southern Scuffle, presented by Defense Soap and Flips Wrestling. Fans can also call the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627). New this season are lower level reserved seats, which are filling up fast. Be sure to get close to the action by purchasing your tickets now.
If you can’t make it to the Scuffle, be sure to follow all of the action on TheSouthernScuffle.com. Here you will find links for the Flowrestling live broadcast, as well as live scoring and updated brackets provided by Trackwrestling.com.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #LetsScuffle when talking about the event on social media. Look for updates on the Chattanooga Strong twitter account @UTCWrestling.